Nin­ga­loo con­tract awarded with­out pub­lic ten­der

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Cor­rup­tion and Crime Com­mis­sion pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions into claims of se­ri­ous mis­con­duct at the Shire of Ex­mouth fin­ished on Wed­nes­day af­ter four days of ques­tion­ing se­nior Shire of­fi­cers.

The CCC ex­am­i­na­tions, held in Perth, fo­cused on the award­ing of the $1 mil­lion aquar­ium con­struc­tion con­tract for Ex­mouth re­search and tourist hub the Nin­ga­loo Cen­tre, now un­der con­struc­tion.

On the sec­ond day of ex­am­i­na­tions, Shire of Ex­mouth chief ex­ec­u­tive Bill Price ad­mit­ted he had awarded the con­tract to Perth-based com­pany Ocean Reefs Pro­duc­tion with­out putting it out to pub­lic ten­der and mis­led councillors about that by giv­ing them a doc­u­ment rec­om­mend­ing they en­gage the com­pany when the con­tract had al­ready been awarded.

He also ad­mit­ted to sev­eral in­stances of mis­us­ing his Shire credit card.

Shire strate­gic projects of­fi­cer Andrew Forte was ques­tioned about his in­volve­ment with the con­tract and doc­u­ment put to coun­cil, as well as his Shire hous­ing agree­ment.

Shire Pres­i­dent Turk Shales and ex­ec­u­tive man­ager for avi­a­tion ser­vices Jen­nifer Kox were also wit­nesses last week.

In his clos­ing re­marks Com­mis­sioner John McKech­nie said the ex­am­i­na­tions had been held pub­licly to im­prove trans­parency and for the ben­e­fit of Ex­mouth’s ratepay­ers.

“These pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions have al­lowed the peo­ple of Ex­mouth to hear ad­mis­sions by se­nior of­fi­cers ex­posed, in­clud­ing the let­ting of a con­tract for over $1 mil­lion with­out any due dili­gence what­ever into the fi­nan­cial cir­cum­stances of a com­pany with a paid-up cap­i­tal of $100 and which was only in­cor­po­rated on Fe­bru­ary 16, 2016,” he said.

“They have con­ceded it was not the only po­ten­tial sup­plier.

“They have seen and heard ad­mis­sions by se­nior of­fi­cers to act­ing with­out au­tho­ri­sa­tion to en­ter into that con­tract, and sub­se­quently cre­at­ing a false doc­u­ment which was put be­fore coun­cil to hide their ac­tions.”

Mr McKech­nie also crit­i­cised some Shire councillors for not act­ing on ev­i­dence con­tain­ing “cer­tain ad­mis­sions” by a se­nior of­fi­cer the CCC had given them last month.

He said the CCC would re­port to Par­lia­ment in due course and “has no power to take any dis­ci­plinary or other ac­tion” it­self.

At a spe­cial meet­ing on Fri­day, the Shire of Ex­mouth ap­pointed ex­ec­u­tive man­ager for engi­neer­ing ser­vices Keith Wood­ward as act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive while Mr Price is on leave.

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